Past EED rants


Live leaderboard

Poker leaderboard

Voice of EED

Tuesday 2 December 2003

EUCD and what it means for you [lurks]

I've been writing a fair bit of stuff about the new European Union Copyright Directive. This is basically a set of requirements which the EU has dictated on copyright issues, which each member country in the EU needs to incorporate into their own law. Anyhow, this has major ramifications for activities that some of the readers of this web site are known to engage in so I think a distilled summary ought to be of interest to you.
The EUCD in essence contains two areas of requirements which we're interested one. Sharing of copyrighted material on the Internet and accountability for that and the protection your ISP provides you from being identified. The second part is defeating copy protection mechanisms, which is probably of less interest but I'll run through it just the same.
As of October the 31st, amendments to UK have come into effect (I'll spare you the lengthy details) so that the UK now complies with EUCD. That means now.
There is a popular misconception that the new laws have made peer-to-peer sharing illegal. They have not, sharing of copyrighted material has always been illegal. What's new is that there is specific legislation to grant injunctions against ISPs who harbor customers which are uploading and downloading copyrighted materials. There's a process stated by which an ISP can be notified of infringing customers.
So, putting it all in context, let's follow a scenario by which Jonny might get one of these mythical 'cease and desist' letters from his ISP.
Boris runs some kind of Gnutella-based peer-to-peer client. He's a bit of a 'tard see. He's sharing all his movies and as a result, when any one comes along and searches for Turbo Ninjas III, the latest Miramar blockbuster - his client dutifully reports his IP and says 'come and get it' in a lovely free opensource protocol.
A protocol which some clever spods have worked out how to make money from. See what they build a list of big name movies. Then they write their own software which connects to the peer-to-peer networks and searches for all of these movies. Dutifully, all these machines report they have the movie. These folks build a nice little database, sorting the IPs into ISPs and exactly what movies they're sharing.
This company (NetPD is one) then approaches the big movie companies and says - guess what chum, we've got a nice list of everyone in the UK who is currently uploading Turbo Ninjas III on the Internet. You can take this to an ISP and get them to stop! Oh, gis some dosh eh?
Movie company laps it up. Then writes a nice official letter with their address, conforming to the new laws - with this lovely database from the likes of NetPD. IPs, times, exactly what they're sharing etc. Likely the letter will remind the ISP of their obligations and that unless they take action, they will be forced to seek an injunction.
ISP reads letter. ISP runs off to read up on the law. ISP bricks it. ISP dutifully types up a load of letters to the customers, telling them that Miramar tells them that you are sharing Turbo Ninjas III and that you should delete this and stop doing this sort of thing. ISP will also remind customer of the T&Cs. Note, the ISP isn't going to boot you off - the ISP knows full well the reason you have broadband is to be n0rty but it doesn't have much choice.
Boris gets this letter, which correctly identifies that he has Turbo Ninjas III on his hard drive and he's running Kazaa or whatever. Boris bricks it, he's never been busted for anything before and thinks, like everyone else on the Internet, that he can do whatever he likes and he's 100% anonymous. Boris gets a clue and turns off the app. He probably also panics and starts throwing out the piles of warez CDs too.
So, that covers how things are working right now. Anything where you advertise that you have a file on the Net, you're liable for this. That also includes Bittorrent, another open standard where the tracker is happy to pass anyone a list of ISPs of people who have the file. Of course you might not know what a torrent is of, unless you have the torrent file - but then the torrent files are helpfully named and available for download from the likes of so that problem doesn't exist.
Now, the other part of the new amendments to UK law are worth mentioning also. It is now illegal to sell, make available or even tell people how to make any device, technique or software etc which defeats technological systems designed to protect content. That means mod chips. It wasn't actually illegal to sell mod chips before, you'd just get sued by the console maker. Now the UK is the 6th country int he UK to make it illegal.
It also means that selling DVD ripping software which is capable of decrypting DVDs is illegal as well. And CD duplication software which is capable of defeating stuff like Macrovision's Safedisc or, potentially, the new copy protected audio CDs too. Of course all of this is preposterous because as we all know, it's piss easy to get all of this software off the net for free. The main thing is that no one is allowed to profit from selling this stuff now. It's also illegal to circumvent copy protection mechanisms by using this software, free or not, but then if you're doing that it was probably illegal anyway. You wouldn't care because the chance of enforcement is nil.
The Internet is another matter. Although at present you really only stand a chance of getting one of these cease and desist letters if you're pirating movies from Sony or Time Warner. However I would expect more publishers to follow suit, the music industry to get involved and in time, even game publishers.
The days of open Net piracy look to be vanishing. This isn't really a bad thing though, is it?


  1. I read last week that this film company pressure is aimed at driving people away from public file-sharing into private file-sharing software like Nullsoft's AOL-crushed Waste project.
    There are commericial offerings like BigSpeed Net and FolderShare, and homebrew ones like Paranoia.
    They all aim to keep the files you share private between you and your friends, reducing the pool of shared content to a minimum, getting things back to a manageable level of loss for them. Back to the old days of taping stuff for your mates.

  2. Absolutely yes, so there is some sense behind it. Except of course the rabid RIAA in the US actually sues kids for millions and stupid things like that, which makes their industry look terrible. Quite why the record companies sanction this behavior of their representative body is beyond me.
    The BPI, the UK version of the MPIA, is quite clear. They're not interested in appearing to be the kill-joy, they just want to cut back on the rampant public piracy. As is right and good.
    Smart folks have been running private file sharing systems for some time, we've had a DC++ hub for an absolute age although it's kind of fallen into disuse - mostly because of how easy it is to get anything you want at full speed off Bittorrent and things like that.
    We're all going to nick stuff on occasion but the respective industries doing sensible things to stop the public 'mass market' piracy is definately a good thing - same with Napster and Kazaa and music, that was never good having a system which allowed very easy, convienient mass market piracy of music. But then had these companies been wise enough to run eMusic or iTunes type services back when the demand was there, then maybe it wouldn't have become such a big issue.
    Then again, and here's the Oracle-like clincher, would the market for paid-for downloads have been there in the first place if it wasn't for the rampant easy piracy of the early days?

  3. I honestly think the market would not exist. People would still be paying £15 quid for a cd. It's a sign of the maturing market.
    I think the success of the PlayStation 2 is due to the original Playstation being a pirates dream. The market grows and moves on. I've not got a chipped PS2, but I sure had a chipped PSX.

  4. I agree with you on the former point. However I can't on the second, there's just no way that piracy on the Playstation was responsible for the mass market boom in games. Chipped PSXs wasn't exactly something your average Joe was doing.
    Although going back a bit, playground piracy was certainly responsible for the rapid rise of the 8-bit platforms which directly transformed to the 16-bit era etc.

  5. You don't know enough pikey people. I do, back where I come from, Redcar (birthplace of paedo-boxing), everyone has a chipped analogue cable box and a chipped 'station. It's the law out there in scumsville.